Sometime about Christmas of last year, I started paying close attention to Lou Dobbs. His theme of "War on the Middle Class" resonated with me. It is still resonating. Dobbs is not perfect. I can find holes in many of the things he says, but he is saying things nobody else is saying. I don't think the immigration issue would be on people's minds as much if Dobbs were not bringing it to our attention on a daily basis. His focus on the issue more than likely helped defeat the bi-partisan Comprehensive Immigration Bill supported by President Bush...
Dobbs didn't cause the biggest mortgage crisis since the Great Depression, but he is one of the few commentators telling us the facts about how it happened. He was beating the drum about Chinese imports long before our dogs started dying and our children faced the danger of harmful chemicals in their toys. Lately he has been heralding the term "independent populist."
When I first heard this term in January of this year, I thought I knew what it meant. I knew from long ago political science courses in college that a "populist" is a "believer in the rights, wisdom, and virtues of the common people."
Who are these common people? The definition changes with time. Right now, "common people" are those of us struggling to keep gas in our cars -despite its high price, pay our mortgages without late fees, save enough money to take our families on a 1-week vacation. Common people are those of us working to protect our kids from the neighborhood drug dealer who receives his product from Mexican drug distributors.
"Common" mothers and grandmothers, doing what their government will not do, are leading the fight to protect their cherished loved ones from harmful products and toys from China.
All of us "common" people are victims of inefficient government, an overblown pop culture that has made drug addicts and moral failures - role models for our children, uncaring multinational corporations that have more influence over our congress than we do, a broken healthcare system with high costs that leave millions uninsured, and a deteriorating quality of life in general.
The "common" people of the United States are dealing with the encroachment of millions who are here illegally and have moved into our neighborhoods changing single-family dwellings into multi-family slums. Those same common people are frustrated at a government that is not responding to the immigration crisis, but encourages it for the cheap labor the crisis generates.
Lou Dobbs has bundled all of those issues together and titled the package, "War on the Middle-Class."
He has his critics. He has been labeled a racist by the Southern Poverty Law Center who conveniently forgets that Dobb's wife is ethnically a Mexican-American. Pro-illegal immigrant groups protest Dobbs while wearing t-shirts showing Dobbs in a Nazi uniform. Dobbs drew the ire of New York governor Eliot Spitzer when Spitzer came up with the plan to give illegal immigrants' driver's licenses. Dobbs labeled the plan, "idiotic" resulting in a full-scale revolt against the plan by the citizens of New York. This even caused presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton to "flip-flop" on the issue in a recent debate.
I think the adjective "independent" used by Dobbs is more of a leadership term than actually describing an individual as an "independent populist." I think Dobbs is describing himself as a populist leader (at least in the media) who is independent of all those forces that "common people" find themselves victim. Dobbs is the independent populist.
Dobbs keeps hinting on his TV program, Lou Dobbs Tonight
, that sometime before the 2008 general election that we will have a dynamic independent populist presidential candidate who will upset politics, as we know it.
Dobbs denies that the candidate is himself, but unless Dobbs is positioning himself as a kingmaker, I don't know who else would fit the independent populist label better than Dobbs...